3524 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.
the price of a Lusitania with all her
The blockade of the Central Powers
not only weakened them financially but
deprived them of many needed articles.
Necessity being the mother of invention,
the Teutons set their wits to work to evolve
makeshifts and Germany soon became
"a land of substitutes."
Even before the war it was common
for the poor in Germany to substitute
malt coffee for the real article, while the
mixing of roasted acorns with coffee was
so common on the part of some families
in the lower middle class that the children of families were given special permits
by the police "to gather acorns for the
purpose on the sacred grass of the public
parks." As the war progressed the substitution of these and other articles for
coffee was resorted to by other classes.
Imitation tea was made out of dried plum
and other leaves; sometimes, before drying,
the leaves would be boiled in genuine tea.
War bread soon came to be universal.
Various combinations were used in making
it but the chief constituents were likely
to be rye and potato flour mixed with a
little wheat. In Hungary maize was often
substituted for the rye.
Before the war, horse flesh was eaten in
Germany, as in Belgium and France, but
its sale was strictly regulated. Its use now
became much more common, as did the
eating of diseased meat, which in most
countries would be regarded as unfit for
human food. Such meat had been used
to a certain extent in Germany before
the war, being sold under strict regulations.
Tainted meat or the flesh of animals
locally affected by disease was specially
treated by processes which freed it from
danger to health. Such meat was the
reverse of appetizing nor did it have the
nutritive value of ordinary fresh meat,
but the poorer population would come
long distances and line up in long queues
in order to purchase it.
Sausage, one of the main German
stand bys, came to be adulterated very
heavily with bread crumbs and other
Before the war, the base used for the
manufacture of propulsive powder was
cotton. After considerable delay, the British placed cotton on the proscribed list,
and the supply available in the Teutonic
countries soon became practically
exhausted. The Germans were fairly successful, however, in making use of wood
pulp as a substitute.
The blockade also resulted in a shortage
of gasoline and petroleum. The government sought to restrict the use of such
articles to the lowest possible limit. Candles were used to a certain extent in place
of petroleum, while benzol was substituted
for gasoline in some engines.
One of the most serious shortages was
that of fats and oils. The supply of fats
and oils was greatly reduced by the blockade, while the demand for these articles
was increased by the war. Many kinds
of oils and fats will, if properly treated,
yield glycerine, and nitro-glycerine was
necessary for the German army. Every
effort was made to conserve the supply
of fats and oils. The inhabitants were
urged to save all fruit pits and send them to
special depots for collection in order that
the oil in the pits could be extracted and
Another essential article in the manufacture of explosives is nitrate. The main
source of nitrates is Chile. The Germans
had stored away 200,000 tons of nitrates,
and, when they captured Antwerp in
October, 1914, they managed to seize a
great deal more. Their supply, however,
was inadequate for the demands of so
long a war and they resorted to the use
of artificial methods of extracting nitrogen
from the air by electrical methods. This
system had been developed to a certain
extent before the war, especially in Sweden
and Norway, and the Germans now bought
much of the output of these factories and
also expended vast sums in Germany in
setting up such plants.
Another article in which there soon
came to be a shortage was rubber. The
Government commandeered the whole rubber supply very early and prohibited its use
except under restrictions.